GAA weekend previews: Throw-in times, TV details, team news

Seán Moran looks ahead to the football league fixtures and club semi-finals

Armagh’s Rian O’Neill will hope to shine at Croke Park against Dublin. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Armagh’s Rian O’Neill will hope to shine at Croke Park against Dublin. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

SATURDAY

Allianz Football League – Division One
Dublin v Armagh, Croke Park, 7.30pm [Live RTÉ 2]

Dessie Farrell wasn’t especially happy with the O’Byrne Cup win over Laois and will be giving plenty of lads chances. Lee Gannon looks likely to feature at the back and Ciarán Archer gets the chance to start graduating from under-20 stardom. Armagh finally get a crack at one of the rites of Division One, playing Dublin in Croke Park – a good stage for Rian O’Neill but maybe not so good for a typically open defence.

Division Two
Derry v Down, Owenbeg, 6pm
[Live, BBC app/Sport NI website]

Derry aim to complete a three-season run from Division Four to the top and build on last year’s encouraging championship. Down appear a little unready for the start of season with injuries and club ties but have Ulster-winning under-20s to import. Likely to learn more than they earn here.

Division Three
Limerick v Longford, TUS Gaelic Grounds, 5pm

Limerick appeared a little out of sorts getting beaten by Tipp in the McGrath Cup, squandering chances and losing Brian Fanning for the season. Longford look purposeful and may fancy themselves here.

Fermanagh v Antrim, Brewster Park, 7pm

Antrim have been buoyant under Enda McGinley and are back in this division whereas the home side’s former captain Eoin Donnelly has retired. Fermanagh may be under pressure here.

Division Four
Carlow v London, Netwatch Cullen Park, 7pm

Welcome back for London after the guts of two years lost to Covid-19 although Carlow unlikely to see it that way.

Walsh Cup SH final
Dublin v Wexford, Croke Park, 5.30pm

Dublin have had a bounce in their step to date and Wexford under new management will be interesting and can start with a trophy this evening.

All-Ireland club SFC semi-finals
Kilcoo (Down) v St Finbarrs (Cork), MW Hire O’Moore Park, 3pm [
Live TG4]

Kilcoo have demonstrated a ruthless attacking streak so far, which elevates their menace beyond attrition and counter-attack and they hammered a Derrygonnelly side that ran them close two seasons ago. The Barrs need to eliminate the tendency to fade out of matches, which left them effectively needing to beat Stacks twice.

Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin) v Padraig Pearses (Roscommon), Kingspan Breffni, 5pm [Live TG4]

Without Paul Mannion, Crokes are a bit of an non-weaponised warhead but they coped comfortably in the Leinster final. Pearses are a team who’ve learned the ropes and pose danger up front with Hubert Darcy and Paul Carey but are primarily a tight collective. Crokes are capable of resisting a surprise.

IFC: Trim (Meath) v St Faithleach’s (Roscommon), The Downs GAA, Westmeath, 1.30pm; Na Gaeil (Kerry) v Steelstown Brian Óg’s (Derry), Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence, 2pm.

JFC: Gneeveguilla (Kerry) v Denn (Cavan), Bórd na Móna O’Connor Park, 1.30pm; Kilmeena (Mayo) v Clonbullogue (Offaly), Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, 1.30pm.

Kerry manager Jack O’Connor returns to face Kildare after his acrimonious departure. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Kerry manager Jack O’Connor returns to face Kildare after his acrimonious departure. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

SUNDAY

Allianz Football League
Division One
Kildare v Kerry, St Conleth’s Park, 1.45pm [Live TG4 app/deferred TG4]

A fraught afternoon for Jack O’Connor on his return. Not everybody in Kildare took his abrupt departure with equanimity. Glenn Ryan will sharpen the home side but not at full strength, they may struggle. Kerry have taken the pre-season seriously and will want to hit the ground running here. Focus will be on how structured the visitors’ defence looks after the early efforts of Paddy Tally. Kildare are likely to give it loads but it probably won’t be enough.

Mayo v Donegal, Markievicz Park, 1.45pm [Live TG4]

Two disappointed teams from last year prepare to go again. James Horan is scoping around for new players and awaiting the return of Cillian O’Connor later in the league as well as coping with no home fixtures. Oisín Mullin’s decision to stay is a huge positive but defence isn’t the issue. Donegal are conscious of the need to expand the repertoire beyond Michael Murphy and to develop a higher boiling point in tight matches. None of which will be solved here.

Monaghan captain Ryan Wylie lifted the Dr McKenna Cup last weekend. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Inpho
Monaghan captain Ryan Wylie lifted the Dr McKenna Cup last weekend. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Inpho

Tyrone v Monaghan, O’Neills Healy Park, 3.45pm [Live TG4]

Monaghan have got to the starting line in good shape with the McKenna Cup already on the mantelpiece with some typically nuggety displays. They need to drive the league in a higher gear if they’re to survive and Conor McManus is still rehabbing broken fingers but they look ready for battle. More so than the All-Ireland champions, who put in a tepid pre-season before losing some valuable panellists. They’ll pick it up but maybe not in time for tomorrow.

Division Two
Clare v Offaly, Cusack Park, Ennis, 2pm

John Maughan returns to Ennis with Offaly 30 years after guiding Clare’s great championship. The two teams need a good start given the implications of relegation. Clare are proven scrappers in the division; Offaly newcomers. Two elder statesmen shooters are still firing: top league scorer David Tubridy and Offaly’s Niall McNamee, still banging in important goals. Clare to edge it.

Galway v Meath, Pearse Stadium, 2pm

Serious questions are being asked of Galway after two terrible seasons since Covid-19 struck. This year has already started well, with the Connacht league won in decent style. They’ll miss playing the best and need a quick promotion. Meath have a competitive history in this fixture but anything more looks unlikely.

Roscommon v Cork, Dr Hyde Park, 2pm

New Cork manager Keith Ricken has moved to shake things up with a clutch of senior debutants as he gets the show on the road west. Roscommon are affected by club calls with Pearses and St Faithleachs in All-Ireland action, potentially opening the door for Cork.

Division Three
Louth v Laois, Ardee, 2pm

Louth’s free-form experimenting in the O’Byrne Cup looks less reliable than Laois’s reaching the final. Again, this campaign has vital relevance for championship and Laois look better set for that.

Westmeath v Wicklow, TEG Cusack Park, 2pm

Two teams with contrasting ambitions: Westmeath needing to get out and Wicklow hoping to stay in. Seánie Furlong’s departure won’t help the latter ambition. Neither will this.

Division Four
Leitrim v Cavan, Avant Money Páirc Seán MacDiarmada, 2pm

A big start for Andy Moran with a local derby. Cavan need to be careful but they will.

Waterford v Tipperary, Fraher Field, 2pm

Tipp’s long march back begins in relatively familiar circumstances. All journeys start with first step.

Wexford v Sligo, Chadwicks Wexford Park, 2pm

Wexford had a big win last June in Shield final and are capable of emulating it.

Kehoe Cup SH final

Carlow v Westmeath, Netwatch Carlow Training Centre, 2pm

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